Sunday offers a typical day-game slate, with the evening ESPN game featuring a couple of 2017 National League playoff teams, as the Washington Nationals wrap up a series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The schedule is devoid of an ace outside of possibly the best pitcher in the game in Corey Kluber.
Head-to-head players have a decent number of candidates to call upon for the last-minute push. Here are some widely available players to put you over the top as the fantasy week comes to a close.
Pitchers to stream
Nick Pivetta (R), rostered in 42 percent of ESPN leagues, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Pittsburgh Pirates: When Pivetta came up last season, he teased some of what we're seeing so far this year. However, he failed to maintain the momentum last season, so it'll be interesting to see what happens this time around. The underlying metrics support Pivetta's strong starts, notably 21 strikeouts with only two walks in 21.7 innings. Last season's downfall was mostly a result of 25 homers in only 133 frames, so it's another great sign he has yet to surrender a long ball in 2018. The Pirates sport the second-lowest home run clip with a righty on the hill.
Miles Mikolas (R), 19 percent, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Reds: After allowing three homers to the Milwaukee Brewers in his return to the majors, Mikolas has only served up one big fly in his next two starts. His control has been impeccable, walking only two in 19 frames, both last time out against Sunday's opponent, the Reds. The rematch is at home in pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium, where Mikolas has a chance to match his seven-inning, one-run outing.
Francisco Liriano (L), 15 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals: Liriano's 2.55 ERA is aided by an unsustainable .217 batting average on balls in play, so movement toward his 4.55 xFIP is forthcoming. The Royals are around the league average versus southpaws, though Liriano holds the platoon edge on two of Kansas City's best hitters in Lucas Duda and Mike Moustakas.
Jaime Barria (R), 1 percent, Los Angeles Angels vs. San Francisco Giants: Barria's April 11 solid effort versus the Texas Rangers earned him the call, as the Angels need a fill-in for the injured Matt Shoemaker. Barria draws a weak Giants squad, sitting in the bottom five in terms of weighted on-base average (wOBA) versus right-handers.
Pitchers to avoid
Jose Quintana (L), 91 percent, Chicago Cubs at Colorado Rockies: Gee, thanks Lord Obvious. Terrible start with a poor matchup aside, Quintana is posting only a 4.37 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP since leaving the South Side and heading north. That said, a 9.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 during this spell suggest a turnaround is coming.
The Chicago White Sox will not avail a plethora of save chances, but with eight games scheduled next week, it's worth considering Joakim Soria or Nate Jones. The pecking order appears to be Soria, then Jones, but there haven't been ample chances to get a good read. Don't fret Soria's 4.50 ERA and 1.67 WHIP; he's still chipping away at the damage of his 4-hit-, 3-run outing against the Detroit Tigers in early April.
Projected game scores
GS is the projected game score for the pitcher. The "*" symbol means the pitcher lacks requisite career major league data to produce an accurate rating. These are the author's ratings.
Juan Centeno (L), under 1 percent, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners (RHP Erasmo Ramirez): Admittedly digging deep here, I'm anticipating the Rangers giving Robinson Chirinos the day off. If Chirinos plays, he's also an option against Ramirez, who's making his 2018 debut after rehabbing a strained lat suffered in mid-February. Ramirez has historically had an issue with the long ball, allowing 36 in 212 innings since the beginning of 2016.
Yonder Alonso (L), 42 percent, Cleveland Indians at Baltimore Orioles (RHP Andrew Cashner): Cashner is mixing in a curveball now, and while this offers some hope, he's still in a tough spot against an Indians squad that will soon make American League hurlers pay for their sluggish start. Alonso is among those slow out of the gate. He might not match last season's power spike, but better days lie ahead.
Hernan Perez (R), 2 percent, Milwaukee Brewers vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Caleb Smith): Perez has been playing regularly with a lefty on the hill, along with some injury fill-in starts against righties. He'll be in the lineup Sunday, likely hitting sixth against a guy with a career 7.34 ERA and 1.81 WHIP.
Miguel Andujar (R), 8 percent, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays (LHP Jaime Garcia): Andujar fronts a slew of righty-swinging Yankees lined up for a good day against a former pinstriper. Garcia's 17 punchouts with just five walks in 16.1 stanzas is impressive, though four homers allowed is scary versus the new-age Bronx Bombers. Aaron Hicks, Tyler Austin and Ronald Torreyes join Andujar as options.
Eduardo Escobar (B), 8 percent, Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays (Undetermined): Sunday lines up as a bullpen day for the Rays. Yonny Chirinos will likely pitch, but might not start. Deploying a switch-hitter is always wise when you know several pitchers will take the hill that day.
Mitch Moreland (L), 5 percent, Boston Red Sox at Oakland Athletics (RHP Daniel Mengden): At some point the Red Sox juggernaut will slump, but right now, you want their bat boy in the lineup, let alone a guy with a 1.400 OPS over the last week in the middle of a lineup scoring at least seven times in 10 of their past 12 games through Friday's action.
Brad Miller (L), 1 percent, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins (RHP Phil Hughes): Hughes will make his 2018 debut after straining his oblique in late March. As the Twins' fifth starter, he wouldn't have pitched much to date, as Minnesota has been riddled with poor weather along with two travel days surrounding their trip to Puerto Rico. Hughes is always among the league leaders in homers allowed. Tropicana Field is a pitcher's park, through it plays just under neutral for left-handed power.
Joc Pederson (L), 2 percent, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals (RHP Jeremy Hellickson): After facing Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Dodger hitters are humming, "Oh, what a relief it is." Hellickson takes the hill in the slate's only late affair, making his second start of the season. He's coming off a rough 2017 in which his 35 homers allowed tied for fifth most in the league. If he makes a mistake, Pederson, along with teammates Chase Utley and Max Muncy, will look to take advantage.
JaCoby Jones (R), 1 percent, Detroit Tigers vs. Kansas City Royals (LHP Eric Skoglund): With Mikie Mahtook sent to the farm, Jones is getting a good look against all pitching. In his young career, Skoglund has given up a .371/.441/.619 slash to right-handers.
Guillermo Heredia (R), under 1 percent, Seattle Mariners at Texas Rangers (LHP Martin Perez): Heredia has been low in the lineup, playing mostly against southpaws. Considering Perez is the lowest-ranked starter on the card, trading a possible extra plate appearance for facing a weak pitcher is a deal worth making.
Hitter matchup ratings
Hitter ratings account for the opposing starting pitcher's history (three years' worth), as well as ballpark factors. "LH" and "RH" ratings account only for left- and right-handed batters, respectively.
Weighted on-base average (wOBA) is the primary statistic used in the calculation. Ratings range from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the best possible matchup, statistically speaking, and 1 representing the worst. For example, a 10 is a must-start rating, while a 1 should be avoided (if possible); a 1-2 is poor, 3-4 is fair, 5-6 is average, 7-8 is very good and 9-10 is excellent.